Steven Knight's 'darker' Great Expectations features Matt Berry getting spanked

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Steven Knight’s Great Expectations adaptation, which stars Olivia Colman as Miss Havisham, is taking a ‘darker’ spin.

The Crown star will be joining Fionn Whitehead and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Pip and Estella respectively in the new series of Charles Dickens’ renowned work.

Peaky Blinders’ creator Knight, who has previously adapted Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, said: ‘What I didn’t want to do – and I think Dickens never tried to do – was make something specifically political.

‘He was never banging the drum, he was just saying, “This is what’s going on” and people could draw their own conclusions. You couldn’t write about certain things in Dickens’ time: Certain elements of sexuality, crime, disobedience against the crown and state.’

He added to The Daily Mail: ‘What I tried to do was imagine if Dickens was writing the story now and had the freedom to go to those darker places, what would he do? If he had been liberated to write the things that were going on that he wasn’t allowed to write about.’ 

Speaking about one scene, which sees Matt Berry spanked as he plays Mr Pumblechook, Colman said: ‘The first time I read Steven Knight’s script, I thought it was much darker than what I had remembered from school. Quite a few bottom-slapping moments, which I did not recall from the original Dickens! There were quite a few changes and I found it quite gripping.’ 

The adaptation also sees Miss Havisham, whose eerie appearance has already been teased, as an opium addict.

Knight elsewhere includes references to the British Empire’s connections to the slave trade, while the first episode begins with Pip contemplating suicide, rather than being approached by Magwitch.

The chilling trailer begins with Miss Havisham warning Pip: ‘When I was young, I was blinded by love, now look on what remains of me.’

Hidden in the shadows of her ruined mansion, Olivia’s Miss Havisham, decked out in her fated wedding dress, questions Pip before watching him grow.

The clip then cuts to a teenage Pip growing closer to Estella, from playing games together as children to learning ballroom steps in each other’s arms.

‘Innocent, moments before the great corruption,’ Miss Havisham’s voice hair-rising voice interrupts.

As Pip falls for Estella, he’s introduced to the world around them, he’s forced to face violence, poverty and all that he had been hidden from.

Meanwhile, he must win Estella, who has been taught not to love men, while she remains Miss Havisham’s ‘weapon of love’ and ‘prized creature’.

Great Expectations will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year.

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